What is career fair?
What is a university career fair? This isn’t that interesting a question, and as you can imagine, career fair has employers come the university to talk to students about careers at their respective companies/institutions. A university can have a university wide career fair, but there can also be smaller career fairs that are focusing on a particular area or degree. Most people think that career fairs should be attended in your graduating year where you dress up, and finally, look for a job post graduation. The wiser among you should go early and often to learn and prepare for your career. Nobody else will.
Why should I go to career fair?
Well, yes, fourth year is a good time to go to career fair and try and find your future employer, but to be prepared for this culminating experience I suggest you go in your first, second, and third year too. You want to go to learn how the career fair is done, and how you need to be prepared for the event. For example, at Miami during career fair almost everyone is dressed in a business suit/attire, and students will line up to do short interviews with their prepared resumes that might be followed up with a post fair longer interview. If you walk into the fair without the proper attire, then unless you’re looking to be recognized for your uniqueness, you stand out as unprepared. Just knowing your basic career fair flow stops you from making these simple errors.
Also, just like doing integration, playing an instrument, or writing an essay, networking and interviewing are skills that need to be practiced. Where can you get this practice beyond the mock interviews your career center might provide? Career fair in your first and second year is great time to practice without any major consequences. Also, you might find an internship early that will lead to your future career.
Keep in mind, university will help you develop some skills, but getting a job and the skills need to both get said job and perform well at it are your responsibility. Career fair is a small piece of this, but one you should not ignore.
Credits: photo titled: SNRE Career Fair; by University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment
How good should your department be?
Should the department of my major be highly ranked? Your department is a division within the university where your major (or minor) is housed and mostly administered. In many cases, a department will determine the curriculum to earn a major, and will teach the classes in relation to that major. For example, a physics undergraduate major will be part of the physics department.
What will rankings tell you?
First, what might be some good rankings to look at from a department perspective (as opposed to rankings for entire universities). US news rankings is not a great source since the departments are ranked based on graduate ranking. This means the main measurements are related to research output, and these metrics have little impact on undergraduate education. LinkedIn’s career rankings is an interesting way to approach ranking your major since it measures departments in terms of career prospects of active alumni, and this would be the ranking system I might use.
Still, the limitation of rankings is that a few metrics are used to evaluate quality, and the relevance of those metrics are questionable depending on your case. A better approach is to have an understanding of what majors are learning and where are they working afterwards (where LinkedIn works well). Those two questions are more relevant to your individual case than perceived and measured metrics.
Another, it doesn’t matter, it’s up to you
From an undergraduate perspective, I feel that similar to choosing a college, how well ranked your department is has very little importance in your undergraduate degree. However, if you know where you want to work (both job and location), then specific schools may serve specific markets.
Most state and provincial schools supply employees to local companies, and a few of their graduates will find their ways into top global corporations. It is useful to look at your potential schools pipelines. However, your first job is a first step that will lead to many other opportunities if you perform well. Your undergraduate is an opportunity to learn and grow. Any department at a good school will push you in this growth, and where you take yourself really depends on your efforts in learning and doing.
Credit: photo titled: Paola ESPINOSA y Tatiana ORTIZ, bronce, ¡Felicidades México!; by Marco Paköeningrat
Here’s some related links about college and stuff from the week: